The Witch of Scrapfaggot Green

 The Sunday Pictorial Newspaper October 1944 - Image available from  Unsolved Mysteries in the World

The Sunday Pictorial Newspaper October 1944 - Image available from Unsolved Mysteries in the World

The local legend tells of a woman named Anne Hughes who was accused of bewitching her husband to death. She was said to have been burned on the Green in Great Leighs, Essex, known as Scrapfaggot Green in 1621.

She was buried on the green and a large boulder was said to have been placed over her grave to stop the Witches spirit from escaping.

During the War, this stone was said to have been moved, to enable transport to pass through the village to the Airfield. Strange events began to happen in the village, such as the local churches bells ringing out on their own.

A paranormal investigator names Harry Price was said to have visited the village, telling the locals that they must replace the boulder that locked the spirit in to the grave. Apparently, this boulder was replaced in 1944, and the strange activity stopped.

It is difficult to determine where this site now is, but there is a large stone in the carpark of St Anne’s Castle Pub. This stone is known by locals as The Witches Stone.

 

Historian Willow Winsham wrote for Folklore Thursday debunking this myth.

She stated that the facts present an Anne Hewes of Great Leighs who was charged for bewitching a John Archer to death in 1615. Although there are sources that claim that she was hung for this crime, the parish register records her date of death as December 1669. Presumably Anne was acquitted.

However, there was one women from Great Leighs who did meet the gallows in 1584. Elizabeth Brooke was hung for witchcraft in 1584, on the charges of bewitching to death.

Winsham claims that it is possible that these two stories of two Great Leighs residents became merged together over time through the storytelling of locals. It is quite probable that the stories became exaggerated for better storytelling, to include husband murdering and burning.

Great Leighs also has a story about a stone. A stone that supposedly marked the place of a murdered game keeper in the woodlands of Great Leighs. These woods were knocked down for the building of the airfield during the War. This is presumably where this part of the Witches Stone story comes from.

 

Read Winsham's article here